You never like to make too much out of one game, especially at the beginning of June.
But make no mistake, Thursday’s 12-7 bludgeoning of the first-place Boston Red Sox had a little extra meaning for the Orioles.
With the win, they split the four-game series at home with Boston. And the Orioles have gone one up in the season series, 4-3, with 12 more to play this year.
Given Boston’s potent offense, their tremendous farm system and a top executive, Dave Dombrowski, who isn’t afraid to go for it all, these Red Sox aren’t going away. So winning as many as you can whenever you can against a chief rival is always crucial.
But it’s also the “how” that’s important here.
The Orioles lost the first two of this home series and then had to roll out Mike Wright and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom had been struggling, against a Red Sox team that is just mashing the ball.
And the Red Sox mashed enough, scoring 16 runs in the final two games. They knocked Wright back to Norfolk and Jimenez back to earth, scoring five times in the sixth Thursday to take a brief lead.
But the Orioles came roaring back. After scoring 13 runs with no homers Wednesday, they scored 12 on seven homers Thursday. True, Boston didn’t have its best starters out there either, with Joe Kelly also getting demoted after his outing and Rick Porcello serving up three longballs.
And maybe that needs to be considered. Still, this is the club leading the division and the Orioles showed that they can play with them – and swing with them – this year.
“Getting beat two times against a team that was chasing us all year and now we’re chasing them,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “A lot of people would have folded the tent after the first two games, but our guys got their dander up a little bit, I think, and wanted to show everybody that we could score a few runs, too.”
And this wasn’t some boring small ball (which the Orioles need to do on occasion, of course). This was a game played by, as Showalter likes to say, big, hairy guys. Adam Jones had two homers, Manny Machado had a key, three-run shot, Pedro Alvarez went deep and so did rookie catcher Francisco Pena for his first as a big leaguer.
And then there was Mark Trumbo, the biggest and hairiest Oriole this year, who hit two monster shots, one estimated at 441 by mlb.com another estimated at 458 to center — which if verified by the Orioles would be one of the longest hit in Camden Yards history.
So let’s not call Thursday a statement game – no such thing in June. Maybe no such thing in baseball. But it certainly showed a little something extra from this club that had been lacking recently.
Ubaldo almost temporarily quelled critics
For five innings Thursday night, no one was peppering my Twitter account with “Ubaldo stinks” comments. That’s what happens when you take a no-hitter into the fifth and a shutout into the sixth.
Alas, the wheels fell off and the haters came rolling out.
In the sixth, Jimenez had a 4-0 lead and was sitting on a one-hitter, when he gave up five runs without retiring a batter. He allowed a two-run bases-loaded double to Xander Bogaerts that nearly was a grand slam. Then David Ortiz followed with a three-run blast, his 16th homer of the season.
In a blink of an eye, Jimenez went from what could have been a tremendous start to another rough pitching line: five innings, six hits, five earned runs, two walks, three strikeouts and one homer.
His ERA actually went up from 6.36 to 6.59, so the post-game comments about how he pitched well need to be tempered some.
But he did look very good for five innings, and that’s definitely a positive step.
“The first five innings, of course it is (good),” Jimenez said. “The last inning, it’s not something that I wanted to do, but it is what it is. I have to look for the positive things. I was able to improve, I was able to command the fastball, I was able to get ahead some, so I have to take that.”
Jones hits No. 200 as Oriole
Among all the Orioles’ homers at Camden Yards last night were Jones’ 199th and 200th as an Oriole (he also hit three with the Seattle Mariners in 2006 and 2007).
He joins an impressive list of players who have hit 200 homers in an Orioles’ uniform. He’s only the seventh to have done it the franchise’s modern history that dates back to 1954. Here’s the company: Cal Ripken Jr. (431), Eddie Murray (343), Boog Powell (303), Brooks Robinson (268) Rafael Palmeiro (223) and Brady Anderson (209)
Jones doesn’t like talking about personal accolades, but he had a pretty good answer when asked about joining that elite club.
“The Orioles have a very, very storied franchise,” Jones said. “These kind of things don’t hit me yet because I’m still in the middle of my career. I think when I get time to sit down and reflect on things, I think it will mean more. But, right now, I’m just in stride with my career, so I’m not really thinking about it. I’m just trying to win games and win a championship.”
Gallardo returns to mound
Yovani Gallardo, who has been on the disabled list since April 23 with right shoulder tendinitis, was back pitching in a game Thursday.
He allowed seven hits, two walks and three runs while striking out four in three innings for High-A Frederick against Potomac. The club hoped he’d go four innings, but he didn’t quite get there after throwing 59 pitches (43 strikes) and nearly matching his max of 60 pitches in the first three.
You can’t read too much into a pitcher’s first outing after not competing for more than a month. Showalter said the defense behind Gallardo was shaky or he might have had a scoreless outing. And Gallardo came out of the appearance healthy, which is always the most important thing.
He’s going to make one more rehab start Tuesday — and possibly more before the Orioles insert him back into their rotation. The 30-year-old was 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts for the club before the injury and the hope is that he’s a much better pitcher than he showed early on.
Showalter said shortstop JJ Hardy (fractured foot) had a CT Scan and everything looked good. He’s progressing the way the team expected, but there’s still no public timetable on his return.